Mastcam

Image of Mastcam instrument

Mastcam

The Mast Camera, or Mastcam for short, takes color images and color video footage of the Martian terrain. The images can be stitched together to create panoramas of the landscape around the rover.

Tech Specs

Main Job To take panoramic color images of the surface and atmospheric features and the terrain ahead of the rover.
Location Mounted about human-eye height, about 6.5 feet (2.0 meters), with about 10 inches (25 centimeters) between them.
Color Quality Similar to that of consumer digital cameras; 2 megapixels.
Image Size ~1600 X 1200 pixels
Image Resolution RESOLUTION: 2.9 inches (7.4 centimeters) per pixel at a distance of about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) and about 0.006 inch (150 microns) per pixel at a distance of 6.6 feet (2 meters)

Left Eye (Mastcam-34)
450 microns/pixel at ~6.5-foot (2-meter) distance 22 centimeters/pixel at ~.6 miles (1 kilometer)

Right Eye (Mastcam-100)
~150 microns/pixel at ~6.5-foot (2-meter) distance 7.4 centimeters/pixel scale at ~.6 miles (1 kilometer)
Focal Length In focus from about 6 feet (2.1 meters), the nearest view of the surface, to infinity

Left Eye
~34 mm

Right Eye
~100 mm
Focal Ratio and Field of View Left Eye
f/8 and 15° to f/8.5 and 39.4°
Stereo Baseline of the Pair ~24.5 cm
Memory 8 Gigabyte memory allows several hours of HD video or 5,500+ raw frames to be stored (e.g., a full-scale mosaic of 360° x 80° imaged in 3 science color filters with at least 20% overlap between images)
HD Video 10 frames per second

Mast Camera (Mastcam)

The Mast Camera, or Mastcam for short, takes color images and color video footage of the Martian terrain. The images can be stitched together to create panoramas of the landscape around the rover. Like the cameras on the Mars Exploration Rovers that landed on the red planet in 2004, the Mastcam design consists of two camera systems mounted on a mast extending upward from the Mars Science Laboratory rover deck (body). The Mastcam can be used to study the Martian landscape, rocks, and soils; to view weather phenomena; and to support the driving and sampling operations of the rover.

Mastcam Camera
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Mastcam Camera
The mast camera on the Mars Science Laboratory will capture the Martian terrain in color photos and high-definition video. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

New Capabilities

Several new features on the Mastcam distinguish it from previous rover cameras:

  • One of the two Mastcam camera systems has a moderate-resolution lens, similar to the Pancam on the Mars Exploration Rovers. The other camera system has a high-resolution lens in order to study the landscape far from the rover.
  • The Mastcam can take high-definition video at 10 frames per second.
  • The Mastcam is designed to take single-exposure, color snapshots similar to those taken with a consumer digital camera on Earth. In addition, it has multiple filters for taking sets of monochromatic (single-color) images. These images are used to analyze patterns of light absorption in different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Electronics on the Mastcam process images independently of the rover's central processing unit.
  • The Mastcam has an internal data buffer for storing thousands of images or several hours of high-definition video footage for transmission to Earth.